Born in 1756 within Salzburg, Austria, Wolfgang Amadé Mozart (or Amadeus after 1773) brought to the world his amazing musical talent. At a very early age he began writing and playing original movements that only scratched the surface of what would be his gift to music lovers worldwide and enjoyed in the forthcoming centuries. After attending the recent High End Society's Munich audiophile show , my wife and i headed for Salzburg followed by Vienna (Wein) Austria! What a joy it would be to see where the man himself was born and raised plus where he spent his adult life continually composing new music. Add to that all the great live music events in historic venues and yes indeed my friends it was time to enjoy the music!
Most of you are familiar with Mozart's history and many of his accomplishments to the music community, or can easily look it up on Wikipedia; my focus will be on the trip itself. To share in the sights and sounds where history was forever changed for the better! While some of my report will not go into great detail, my hopes are to entice more music lovers to travel the world to International shows and take advantage of the opportunity to then travel to amazing historic places.
High End Society Munich Show
There is no doubt in my mind this is the show to attend this time of year. Imagine over 200 exhibitors presenting 600+ brands in a huge, multi-level convention center spanning 45,931 square feet! While the usual 'major' high-end audio brands, plus mainstream electronics companies, are there with new products, there are many niche brands with products that fill the desires of DIY'ers, tube aficionados, wireless music server enthusiasts, etc. Analog is very much alive and well in Germany, with a mind boggling array of precision-made turntables, phonostages, tonearms, and cartridges. Of course the Germans also are very much technically tuned into state-of-the-art digital replay.
If you think only German companies attend the High End Society show you would be very far off the mark! Products at the show originated from such places as Austria, Canada, China/Hong Kong, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Scotland, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, and of course the United States. Perhaps this is one of the many reasons i nickname this show the 'European CES.'
Another reason is, to quote the recently received press release sent to me after the show, "There was an extremely high percentage of international trade visitors. They came from 43 countries; the proportion of foreign trade visitors was 52 percent. Eric Montag, the Cabasse representative for Southern Germany noticed that a significant amount of distributors came from Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Russia, Hungary and the Ukraine. Oliver Hennel, Sales and Marketing Manager of Canton, remarked that it was absolutely sensational that Canton, who export to a total of 48 countries, were able to welcome representatives from 29 of these countries at the trade fair. Foreign journalists were present from a total of 27 countries."
Of course the real reasons most audiophiles attend high-end audio shows is to see the gear! If, for example, you are a pent up audiophile in the United States and tired of seeing the same items time and again at shows, then grab your passport and head on off to Munich! My show report only hints at all the possibilities. Due to my travels around the world each year, perhaps there are some items that do not catch my eye because they have been seen time and again (been there, done that, bought the t-shirt). Yet to you, Mr. and/or Mrs./Ms. World Traveler, you get to experience an International show in person and enjoy new to you products!
Traveling through Europe is incredibly easy as the very organized train system allows my wife and i time to relax and see the countryside between destinations. In the past decade or so of traveling through Europe i have never felt the need to rent a car. Within only a few short hours by bus, and even faster by train, we arrive in Salzburg, Austria! Like many other historic European cities, wonderful deep-rooted architecture buildings surround the narrow roadways. The fresh air and new spring blooms caress your senses as the scent of fresh food reminds you it is time to eat. My wife and i agree that in Europe, France, Italy, Spain, etc. are a time of fest (London is a good place for a diet). So we have arrived and the army now marches on a full stomach, with cappuccino for dissert. Now it is time for music!
Wolfgang Amadé Mozart lived in this small multi-level home that is, and rightly so, now a museum. Within it we find the usual old world kitchen and sleeping quarters, yet there are some great surprises inside! In one of the rooms are a few of Mozart's violins, a sight so inspiring that my violinist wife is moved to tears. These instruments were not modern duplicates, such as the harpsichord also within the dwelling, but the actual instruments the master himself utilized. Wow! There was also sheet music, locks of hair, paintings, etc. It was amazing to be in the same place that 250 years ago was the place it all began.
Of course i'd be remiss if i did not mention that there are various, and very talented street musicians in Salzburg. Add to that a variety of concerts within performance halls and a great time here is virtually guaranteed!
Movie buffs know that Salzburg is also the place where The Sound Of Music was partially created. The hills are indeed alive with the sound of music as my wife and i visited the same church, walked around the circular fountain that feature horses, and looked over the picturesque countryside.
Vienna (Wein) Austria
And if enjoying a high-end audio show and the birthplace of Mozart is not enough, a fast train ride takes us to Vienna where Mozart spent most of his life. We arrive at the hotel and immediately ask about the various concerts and buy tickets accordingly. There is very much to see and do, where does one start?
Taking a 4-hour bus tour of the city is a great way to get an overview of the important places and perhaps tour one of the castles. There are many great music halls, museums... and the final resting place of Wolfgang Amadé Mozart who passed away in 1791. After the bus tour we grab lunch and afternoon cappuccino/espresso at Hotel Sacher for their legendary Sacher torte with Schlag Obers (whipped cream). We then make our way to various places around Rathaus plaz. This is the center of where many things are located, with others being around the Ring (a street that circles the city).
There is a palace, art museum, treasury museum, and musical instrument museum. So much to do and see! The second night in Vienna my wife and i enjoy a concert at the Imperial Palace. Naturally the music choices focus on Mozart and as an added bonus there is also a pair of vocalists and everyone in the performance is dressed in period attire! The usual 'popular' movements are performed with a few great moments. The conductor appears to have chosen a very safe (boring) rendition of each piece, and perhaps my hopes were for something a bit more inspiring. The hall sounds truly spectacular and balanced, though i'd prefer great music in an mediocre hall versus a great hall with musical mediocrity. Other halls to enjoy music include the Musikverein Goldener Saal, Wiener Staatsoper, and Konzerthaus. Music lovers take note, as the Vienna Boys Choir is a must-hear. There are so many different musical events each day that it would be impossible to hear all of them! One of the great moments was within a church with small ensemble and of course pipe organ. This was not technically a concert, but a Wednesday religious mass.
Other things to do in Vienna include the Lipizzaner Stallions, though please avoid the morning warm-up and only pay for the Sunday performance.
Summing It All Up
So there you are with a good plan of action. Become a world traveler and enjoy the many sights and sounds including a high-end audio show, spectacular vistas, and truly historic and musically significant places. The next great audiophile event is in Milan, Italy, from September 14th through the 17th. Milan's Top Audio & Video show is filled with plenty of tube exotica, handcrafted wood speakers, analog, digital, and a good dose of home theater. After the show you can travel to Venice or Tuscany... or tour Maranello where automotive legends Ferrari and Lamborghini reside. As we always say, in the end what really matters to me is that we all....